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Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter SPOTLITE REVIEW

31 oz bivy sack with hooped pole and a rich feature set for excellent breathability and ventilation.


Overall Rating: Recommended

When compared to other pole-supported bivy sacks on the market, the eVENT Unishelter is lighter than some, heavier than others. It offers better condensation resistance than its lighter competitors, and less structural integrity than its heavier brethren.

If its canopy was tightened, a lighter fabric was used on the upper, and a silnylon floor was offered as an option, the eVENT Unishelter would be at the very top of its class, all alone.

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by Ryan Jordan |

Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter SPOTLITE REVIEW


The Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter blends comfort (with an overhead pole), foul-weather protection (with a waterproof zipper and robust bathtub floor), and breathability (with a noseeum mesh window, tunnel vent, and extremely breathable fabric) in a package that weighs less than two pounds.

The eVENT Unishelter's most unique features are its highly breathable fabric and effective venting options. In other eVENT bivy sacks that I've tested, they prove themselves more resistant to condensation than any Gore-Tex bivy, especially in conditions where condensation is a particularly challenging nuisance (specifically, in cold tempertaures that hover around and below freezing).

Because the Unishelter design improves air circulation (with its overhead pole), and ventilation (with its tunnel vent and mesh door partially protected by an eyebrow peak), it may be the most condensation-resistant bivy sack I've ever used.

At 31 ounces, the eVENT Unishelter is not ultralight, per se. After all, one can now purchase single wall solo tents that offer more interior volume and a larger footprint than what the cramped quarters of any bivy sack can offer.

However, consider the advantages of a bivy sack like the Unishelter: absolute simplicity in pitching and the emotive rewards of sleeping under the stars while remaining protected. My favorite feature about the Unishelter is the ability to remain warm and dry, securely cocooned inside the shelter, reading a good adventure story or writing in my journal, while a storm rages only inches from my head! It brings you in closer communion with nature's fury and makes you appreciate it in a more intimate way. The experience is capped by waking to clear skies, unzipping the door, sitting up, and brewing morning coffee while snapping photographs of the sunrise. While there are other single and dual pole designs that allow you to do this as well, none of them offer the technical features for condensation resistance that the eVENT Unishelter offers.

The Unishelter's primary limitations, as noted by other reviewers, are focused on its cramped quarters. Perhaps the reader should be reminded that this is a bivy sack, and not a tent, and thus, these are not limitations inherent to the Unishelter, but to bivy sacks in general. Consequently, if we focus strictly on the Unishelter design, I find its most important limitations to be aesthetic. I'd like to see the design "tightened" up a bit from a patterning standpoint so that when fully pitched with stakes at the foot and head end, the shelter offers the appearance of an aerodynamic rocket rather than the floppy and bivy-sack like appearance that results in a bit of noisy flapping in high winds.


  • Weight: 31 oz
  • Upper Fabric: 3L eVENT (ripstop)
  • Floor Fabric: PU-Coated Nylon
  • Pole Type: Easton 7075-T6 Al, shock-corded/collapsible
  • Required Stakes: 2-5

What's Good

  • Robust materials
  • Excellent breathability and ventilation
  • Roomy head area
  • Excellent craftsmanship

What's Not So Good

  • Floppy design for a pole structure
  • Waterproof zippers cannot always be operated with one hand


"Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Ryan Jordan. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-08-02 03:00:00-06.


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Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter SPOTLITE REVIEW
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter SPOTLITE REVIEW on 08/01/2006 23:02:27 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Integral Designs eVENT Unishelter SPOTLITE REVIEW

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Overall Ratings By Reviewers on 08/01/2006 23:03:24 MDT Print View

I'm particularly interested in hearing from the readership whether the "overall rating" section offers any useful value to the reader, as we are considering adding this to all reviews as a standard section, and then providing the website visitor the ability to query all product reviews by this and other fields.

Edited by ryan on 08/01/2006 23:04:25 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
overall ratings on 08/02/2006 01:10:29 MDT Print View

A similar system is used by the Digital Photographry Review website to good effect. Although all rating systems are fraught with their own particular quirks and limitations, this one seems resonable for a broad relativistic treatment of a product. It's a hook for the reader to peruse the in-depth write-up of the goods.

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
overall rating on 08/02/2006 01:13:49 MDT Print View

I must say I like the overall rating but I think that the overall readership of BPL is educated enough to make up it's own opinion about the reviewed products. In case of BPL, over the years BPL and the reviewers really earned my trust, that's what makes these overall ratings much more valuable for me. I'am much more reserved with review ratings from other magazines or so called backpacking sites.
I would say go for it!

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
I like the rating system on 08/02/2006 05:34:05 MDT Print View

I like this descriptive rating system better than a 1-5 scale. Usually, the 1-5 ends up being an attempt to give the impression that the rating is far more scientific and objective than it really is.

The descriptive scale, and the deliberately "soft" definitions each description is based on, are perfect for my needs. "3" tells me only that, for some reason, someone liked it better than the "2" item, but less than the "4" item. "Above average" is useful to me as a consumer: this isn't junk, and I should look at it - but I should also look at some other similar items. "Highly recommended" tells me I really don't need to look any further (if my needs are pretty similar to the reviewer's.)

The numerical scale is OK for our reader reviews - they provide a mechanism to average out the input from a number of people - but for the single-reviewer article, I really like the descriptive overall rating.

Channing Sze
(eeyore) - F
possibly misleading on 08/02/2006 09:14:05 MDT Print View

a numeric rating is usually ok, BUT only if there's lots of reviews (>10?). an average based on a few reviews is too easily skewed. for example, waits for a few reviews before releasing their results.

Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
could be lighter on 08/02/2006 20:31:25 MDT Print View

I have a Sierra Designs Divine Lightning (DL) Bivy Tent, a relic from the 1990's.

Upper looks fairly similar to Bibler's Toddtex, though the material is not specified on the label. Floor is heavy PU-coated nylon.

Unlike the Unishelter, the DL is tall enough to sit up in; a major advantage IMHO.

The DL without poles or pegs weighs just 32 oz!

Although the DL was designed to use Easton poles at the head and foot of the tent, it could be modified to use trekking poles at the head together with the short Easton pole at the foot. So for roughly 32 oz plus trekking poles you get a fully functional one man goretex tent.

Why is it that, nearly ten years after the DL was produced, a less functional Unishelter design weighs almost as much as the DL?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: could be lighter on 08/02/2006 20:41:18 MDT Print View

Chris, you're right. The DL tent was a great design. I have one and used it to the point of no return. The floor needs replaced badly.

Its limitations relative to the Unishelter include poor breathability and a longer footprint. The latter isn't a big deal but I've spent some pretty uncomfortable wet nights in the DL, especially in the winter, where in similar conditions, the eVENT Unishelter performed well.

Sebastian Ventris
(sabme) - F - M

Locale: SW UK
lighter on 08/05/2006 14:36:00 MDT Print View


More importantly to me than the rating system would be a simple summary and conclusion when I don't have time to read pages of technical literature. I find some of the reviews on BPL excessively scientific and long winded. Not to say I don't appreciate your efforts.

Why so much excitement about these products? I've been sleeping in much lighter bivy bags with no tarps and getting rained on directly for years. My old Rab waterproof breathable Pertex bag is lighter and my current MontBell Breeze Dry-Tec is much lighter.

I always use a synthetic sleeping bag and sometimes have to improvise a vapour barrier liner from some plastic bags to avoid excessive condensation in prolonged bad weather. But mostly camping under trees is enough.


Johan Engberg

Locale: Wrong place at the right rime
Update on 04/13/2007 07:49:51 MDT Print View

I recently bought the Overbag and it has now the same stretch drawstring system in both hood and body found in the micro bivy.

James Crockett
(davidcrockett1958) - F
Re: lighter on 08/07/2007 00:52:06 MDT Print View

"More importantly to me than the rating system would be a simple summary and conclusion when I don't have time to read pages of technical literature."

I like both. A rating and a summary. The digital camera site mentioned earlier is great and they provide a conclusion like summary and a rating like "highly recommended" or "recommended". In the summary they also give you the reason(s) that said camera (insert any product)was given recommended and not highly recommended.

Overall, I think this is a great idea!

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Revised Unishelter on 08/13/2007 22:04:07 MDT Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/01/2013 09:59:11 MDT.

Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
Agree, David on 08/17/2007 21:38:44 MDT Print View

The unishelter is my favorite!